About Author: Colleen Theisen

Outreach and Instruction Librarian. Lover of coffee, as well as 19th century photography, painting, tourism and print.

Posts by Colleen Theisen


A Look Back on 2015 in Special Collections

34,000 people visited the mobile museum exhibition, "Iowans in World War 2" and 3,000 Pages were digitized as part of the Hevelin Collection science fiction fanzine digitization projectOur instruction program had its biggest year ever with 212 classes taught in special collections and 38 in the Iowa Women's ArchivesBig year for social media. 1,000,000 loops on Vine, Instagram grew exponentially to over 3000 followers.We received donations of 18000 science fiction books, the earliest known recording of Stokely Carmichael, seriographs by Corita Kent and congressional papers from Jim Leach. Dada and Surrealism journal is now online and we answered 696 Reference questions last year.New staff include Alonso Avila, Amy Chen, Laura Hampton, Lindsay Moen, and John Fifield. We have a new video series called, "If Books Could Talk."The LULAC national president visited IWA and Janet Weaver was awarded the LULAC Council 307 builder award. We had new spanish language acquisitions including an artist's book called Orbita and 1960's-1970's mexican comic books called Los Supermachos.We visited many science fiction conventions this year including ICON, Demicon, Mid-South con and World Con and fans from ICON helped raise $1955 to fund digitization.


Issue no. 20 of Dada/Surrealism Journal Now Available

By Tim Shipe, Curator, International Dada Archive, and Arts & Literature Liaison

We are pleased to announce the publication of issue no. 20 of our journal Dada/Surrealism, a special number entitled From Dada to Infra-noir: Dada, Surrealism, and Romania.” http://ir.uiowa.edu/dadasur/vol20/iss1/.

Co-edited by Monique Yaari of the Pennsylvania State University and Timothy Shipe of the University of Iowa, our thematic issue includes eighteen articles by scholars and critics from North America, Europe, and Israel, as well as a selection of primary documents newly translated into English and a substantial bibliography. From Dada to Infra-Noir is the first essay collection in English on the subject of Romanian Dada and surrealism in literature and the visual arts, both within Romania and in the (largely francophone) diaspora.

Dada/Surrealism is the peer-reviewed, free and open-access journal of the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism, and is published by the International Dada Archive, Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.

Profuse thanks are due to Wendy Robertson for her expertise, patience, and hard work in bringing this project to fruition.

Tim Shipe

General Editor, Dada/Surrealism


News and Updates from Special Collections 12/18/2015

From the Web and Social Media


Boy hitting a pinata at a LULAC party in 1967

Preservation Projects Librarian, Vitalina Nova, wrote a blog post about the League of United Latino American Citizens Council 10, both their past records and their current projects for the Iowa Women’s Archives blog.

Image on the left from LULAC Council 10 Records, IWA0733



Rose Bowl sticker2016 Rose Bowl a chance to make new memories: UI archivist recalls Iowa’s five previous visits to Pasadena.  This month’s Old Gold column by University Archivist David McCartney was posted this week.

This 1959 Rose Bowl decal was sold by Iowa Book and Supply and donated to the university by 1976 alumnus Vernon Lustick, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.



Notes from the Special Collections Classroom

This week’s news from Amy Chen, Instruction Librarian 


Image of a class of students examining books

Counting up some totals at the end of the semester, Special Collections (not including the Iowa Women’s Archives) taught 119 class sessions total in the Fall 2015 Semester:

4 in August

34 in September

39 in October

28 in November

14 in December



New Acquisitions

Arrival Notifications from Margaret Gamm, 

Acquisitions & Collections Management Librarian 


The Descent of Mount Gadam is a new acquisition for our Charlotte Smith miniature book collection. Amos Paul Kennedy published the book in 1993 under the imprint of his Jubilee Press, which was later renamed the Jubalee Press. The text is an adaptation of a folktale of the Mensa Bet-Abrehe people of northern Ethiopia.


News and Updates from Special Collections 12/11/2015

Notes from the Special Collections Classroom

This week’s news from Instruction Librarian Amy Chen.

Latin Classes

On Monday, four sections of Marcia Lindgren’s Latin I came to Special Collections to learn how Latin circulated in the early modern period with either Acquisition Librarian Margaret Gamm or Instruction Librarian Amy Chen. Students rotated among eight books (or, technically, seven books and one manuscript!) completing worksheets that directed them to find unique features in the texts such as bookplates, guide letters, and worm holes. This curricula is new and represents our shift toward student-centered classes. By all means, it was a success, and we look forward to continuing and refining these sessions in the future.

Student Exhibition

Rennaissance Texts as Technology main pageEnglish Department Professor Adam Hooks has been working with the UI Libraries’ Special Collections and Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio for a project with his students creating a group exhibition utilizing the open source exhibition software Omeka. You can view the students’ online exhibition, “Renaissance Texts as Technology” here: http://rentexts2015.omeka.net/




Event Recap

Lunch with the Chefs

Acquisitions Librarian Margaret Gamm and University Archivist David McCartney created a pop up exhibition for this semester’s Caribbean-themed Lunch with the Chefs event.

Iowa Bibliophiles

Arthur Bonfield spoke about 17th century voyage and travel books from the publisher John Ogilby, and brought stunning examples from his own collection including one of the earliest images of New Amsterdam (New York City) and the first English road atlas. Iowa Bibliophiles is on hiatus through the winter break and will return February 10th.

Join our email list to get meeting reminders: https://t.co/SkUsH1jiIB

From the Web and Social Media


Cover of New Challenge with image of Dora Lee MartinManuscripts Processing Coordinator Jacque Roethler wrote a blog post, Dora Lee and Arthurine: A Story of Two Black Women in 1955-1956





Image of Colleen TheisenOutreach & Engagement Librarian Colleen Theisen was interviewed by SAGE for Library Journal.





Image of a woman from the cover of a pulp magazine by Margaret Brundage

The Hevelin Collection Tumblr was celebrating the birthday of the “Queen of the Pulps” Margaret Brundage.  Digital Projects Librarian Laura Hampton has created a posts here and an in-depth post here.





New Acquisitions

New Arrival Notifications from Acquisitions & Collections Management Librarian Margaret Gamm

New acquisition opening: The Laundry Book. Contretemps Coup Press, 2015.



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Iowa Bibliophiles December 9th Meeting: All Are Welcome

Iowa Bibliophiles December Meeting


Refreshments 6:30PM — Talk at 7PM

Special Collections Reading Room — 3rd Floor Main Library


Travel back in time to see portions of the world as documented in richly-illustrated, large books published by John Ogilby between 1649 and 1675. The books include explorations of China, Asia, Japan, Africa, America, and Britain.

Arthur Bonfield will share his extensive knowledge about the books, John Ogliby, the printer, and the cultural context in which the books were produced and used. A description of Ogilby’s methods of publishing, selling, illustrating, and distributing these expensive publications and their contents will be the focus of this talk.

This is a rare opportunity to view and closely examine these volumes, which are English translations of books published in Amsterdam by Jacob von Meurs. Ogilby’s books appear to have been produced using plates from the original Dutch books—an interesting detail about which you’ll want to hear more!

Please join us for coffee and light refreshments at 6:30 PM before the lecture at 7PM in the Reading Room of Special Collections on the 3rd Floor of the UI Main Library.

All are welcome and the lecture is free.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.



Image of Arthur Bonfield
Arthur Bonfield is a Professor at the Iowa Law School and has been collecting books published between 1490 and 1800 for 60 years. He has collected about 1,000 books printed during that period and focuses his collecting on voyages, travels, and geography; English and European history; encyclopedias and dictionaries of the arts and sciences; political philosophy; and herbals.

News and Updates from Special Collections 12/4/2015

In The News This Week


Photo of David McCartney

A Look Back at History as the Hawkeyes Complete a Historic Season

University Archivist David McCartney tells KWWL TV news about the last undefeated Hawkeye football team in 1922.



Image of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Photo by Алый Король on Flickr

Querido Pedro: llega ‘Cien años de soledad’

A profile of the Lastra collection, especially correspondence between Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa – letters among friends and acquaintances who were writers.

(Pedro Lastra Collection of Letters from South American Writers (MsC 844)).



Image of Greg PrickmanThe Van Allen Rescue Mission.

Head of Special Collections Greg Prickman is featured in this article about the project to digitize data from space from the University of Iowa Foundation.



Image of Colleen TheisenIowa City Ranked As One of the Best Cities for Librarians

Outreach and Engagement Librarian Colleen Theisen was interviewed for this Press Citizen article about librarians in Iowa City.




Now Online


Logo for archiving women at iowaArchiving Women at Iowa

An oral history project from UI History Corps capturing the history of the Iowa Women’s Archives.




Notes from the Special Collections Classroom

This week’s news from Instruction Librarian Amy Chen.


On Monday and Wednesday of this week, we had students from Roy J. Carver Professor of English Ed Folsom’s Whitman and Dickinson class visit Special Collections.

Stephanie Blalock, the Digital Humanities Librarian and Associate Editor of the Whitman Archive, spoke to students about the publishing history of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass as well as his lesser-known foray into short fiction. A first edition of Leaves of Grass as well as a later signed anniversary edition of Whitman’s poetry were among the many items students viewed.


New Acquisitions

New Arrival Notifications from Acquisitions Librarian Margaret Gamm.


WAAC Scrapbook Arrives for the Iowa Women’s Archives

This photo album contains images of the American Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) at Fort Knox in 1943, and of one woman’s training period at Fort Des Moines. The WAAC was created in 1942 and converted to the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) the following year. The first contingent of 800 members of the WAAC began basic training at Fort Des Moines Provisional Army Officer Training School, Iowa. These were the first women, other than nurses, to serve with the Army.


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Olson Graduate Assistant John Fifield Receives Caxton Club Grant

Image of John FifieldAs we announced in our Friday news post last week, our Olson Graduate Assistant, John Fifield was awarded a Caxton Club grant to continue his research. John’s grant will fund his return to the Biblioteca de la Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru, in January. He will be continuing research on Colonial Spanish monastic libraries and the Transatlantic Book Trade. You can view photos from the projects at the Recoleta at recoleta2015.tumblr.com.


Here is the official press release about the grant:

CHICAGO–The Caxton Club is pleased to announce that it will award $12,000 in grants to seven book artists and researchers.

The grants of up to $2,500 each will be given to graduate and undergraduate students in the Midwest, to help them pursue projects in the fields of book arts, bibliography, the history of the book, library studies, print culture studies and zines.

The 2015-2016 winning projects included: an artist’s book based on historical events in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood in the late 1960s and early 1970s; an artist’s book about the life of the recipient’s grandfather, who obsessively collected exotic artifacts and curiosities, and was swept out to sea, along with his collection, in 2004; and a research project to study rare early European books in the library of a Peruvian convent.

The book projects will all be printed in small editions, and they will be created from a range of materials, from cyanotype and linoleum cuts to handmade paper (made by the artist), paper sculpture, letterpress, and even a tin can.

The Caxton Club received 17 grant proposals from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Columbia College, University of Iowa, Dominican University, and Miami of Ohio.

The grantees are: Hannah Batsel, an MFA candidate at Columbia; Mary Clare Butler, an MFA candidate at Columbia; John Creighton Fifield, an MA and Graduate Certificate Book Studies candidate at the University of Iowa; Ian Huebert, MFA candidate at University of Iowa; Jose Resendiz, MFA candidate SAIC; Amy Richard, MFA candidate at University of Iowa; Cathy Batliner, BFA candidate SAIC.

Since 2002, the club has given out more than $50,000 to support the book arts and help create the next generation of book artists.

The Caxton Club is placing greater emphasis on the work of emerging book artists and the process of recognizing and encouraging them. George Leonard III, expressing the feelings of the Grant Committee said, “I was very impressed with the large number of submissions to the grants committee and with their exceptional quality.” The Committee will continue to explore ways to create greater awareness of the Grants.

Two additional grants will be awarded this year. Established for the first time this year is a scholarship for a Midwesterner to attend a course at Rare Book School. The recipient will be chosen by a RBS committee and will be announced in mid-December.

Also for the first time this year, a grant was awarded to an undergraduate at the School of the Art.

Caxton Club Grant Recipients


News and Updates from Special Collections 11/20/2015

Awards and Recognition

Congratulations to John Fifield, Caxton Club Grant Recipient

Caxton Club Grant RecipientsOn Wednesday, November 18, University of Iowa Center for the Book students Ian Huebert, Amy Richard, and Special Collections’ Olson Graduate Assistant John Fifield all accepted grants from the Caxton Club at the Union League in Chicago. John’s grant will fund his return to the Biblioteca de la Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru, in January. He will be continuing research on Colonial Spanish monastic libraries and the Transatlantic Book Trade. You can view photos from the projects at the Recoleta at recoleta2015.tumblr.com.

Join us in congratulating John!


Congratulations to Kelly Grogg, Ella Von Holtom, and Heather Wacha for Being Accepted Into the Obermann Graduate Institute

Oberman Center House LogoOlson Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg, and department employees Ella Von Holtom, and Heather Wacha were all accepted as Graduate Fellows for the seventh annual Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. Join us in congratulating Kelly, Ella, and Heather!

Read more.



New Acquisitions

Early 20th Century Autograph Scrapbook

Marie Mattingly Meloney, the creator of this album, gifted it to Laird C. Addis in 1926. It contains many autographs and small mementos from famous figures of the early 20th century, collected during Meloney’s time as an award-winning reporter and editor. She was close friends with Marie Curie, and was responsible for a nationwide campaign to purchase radium for Curie and her laboratory. More information about the album is available here.  Donated by Laird Addis Jr.

Medieval Quill Cutting & More: If Books Could Talk Video Series Returns

Moving image of cutting the tip of a feather quill











How does a Medieval manuscript tell its story?  If you look closely enough the marginalia, bookplates, library stamps, dirt marks, and page numbers tell a story of how a manuscript was made, who used it, and where it has been.  If Books Could Talk is a video series exploring the questions to ask to investigate a manuscript by examining the physical traces that tell its story. If Books Could Talk is a collaboration between the UI Libraries and History Corps.

Delve in and you will be surprised with what you can learn when you listen to an artifact closely.


From the University Archives

Civil rights activist donates rare material to UI: UI archivist cultivates friendship with key player in 1964 voter registration effort

Image of Eric Morton in uniform as a young man

Civil rights activist Eric Morton’s story is the feature in this month’s Old Gold column from University Archivist David McCartney.

On the left you see Eric Morton in 1951, one year after enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Eric Morton Civil Rights Papers MsC 0999).

Read more.



From the Iowa Women’s Archives

Remembering Bob McCowan

Image of Bob McCownIowa Women’s Archives Curator Kären Mason shared her memories of former Department Head Bob McCown on what would have been his 76th birthday this week. Read more on the Iowa Women’s Archives blog.  




Staff Profile:  Meet Annie Tunnicliff

Image of Annie Tunnicliff processing archivesAnnie Tunnicliff joined the Iowa Women’s archives this semester as the Dorothy Wirtz Graduate Research Assistant.  When this versatile performer is not working, she wears many faces. Stop by the IWA Tumblr to read the whole feature.





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News and Updates from Special Collections 11/13/2015

Recently Cataloged

Two carts of books

Two carts of 1930s-2000s science fiction books from the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction Collection have recently returned from the Cataloging-Metadata Department.  Among these are hardcover and paperback books as well as magazines and periodicals. Included are works by Isaac Asimov, H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Herbert and more. Use the keyword “Hevelin” in the Infohawk Catalog to browse an up-to-date list of everything from the collection that has a catalog record to date, or check out the gallery below to browse some titles.


Recently Published Collection Guides

  1. Rippey Postcard Collection, MsC1033, Late eighteenth and early twentieth century postcards.  http://aspace.lib.uiowa.edu/repositories/2/resources/2633
  2. Wachel Collection of Early Photographs, MsC1040.  Includes daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, ferreotypes or tintypes, and cyanotypes. It also contains a collection of union cases, mostly holding miniature photographs of the Civil War era. Of special note is an album titled “Canoe Trip 1915” which is the record of a canoe trip taken in Illinois by four men, presumably brothers of the name of Jehren. It is enhanced by the inclusion of rhyming couplets commenting on what is occurring in the photographs.  http://aspace.lib.uiowa.edu/repositories/2/resources/2631

New Acquisitions

1.The Resounding Whistle Comes to the Archives

Archivist holding a steam plant whistleThe recently-retired power plant whistle has arrived at the library! Many thanks to Kyle Smith, electronics instrumentation supervisor in the power plant and whistle historian, for making this possible.

The whistle is the third of a line first used at the plant in 1939; this particular one functioned from sometime between 1992 and 1994 until last Tuesday, when #4 was activated. More about the whistle and its history is at http://now.uiowa.edu/2015/11/whistle-work

You can see a photo of this whistle in action in 2011 here.


2. Marie Curie Dedication

Marie Curie inscribed this lovely edition of Pierre Curie to Laird Clark Addis, the father of the donor. Laird C. Addis donated the book earlier this year, along with another that will be featured next week. We are very excited to receive these pieces of scientific history.


From the Web and Social Media

Digital Transitions posted a featured video about the UI Libraries digitization equipment and NEH grant funded project to digitize Special Collections’ extremely brittle Vaudeville scrapbooks.


Event Recap

People gathered around Greg Prickman looking at books

Three copies of Liber Chronicarum (The Nuremberg Chronicle) from 1493 were on hand for the Iowa Bibliophiles talk last Wednesday night.  Greg Prickman, Head of Special Collections introduced the provenance of the copy from the Main Library, the copy from the John Martin Rare Book Room at the Hardin Medical Library, and a copy from the private collection of Arthur Bonfield.

Thanks to everyone who attended!  Next month’s meeting is Wednesday, December 9th at 7pm where Arthur Bonfield will give a talk about his collections of 16-17th century travel literature.


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News and Announcements from Special Collections 11/7/2015

New Acquisitions

Lindset, John (ed.). Alice in a World of Wonderlands. Oak Knoll Press, 2015.
This superb three volume set arrived recently from Oak Knoll Press, which published it in cooperation with the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. The first volume includes Essays on Alice, the second includes Back-Translations, and the third includes a massive checklist.


Micrographia: Book Art Responses to Early Modern Scientific Books

November 5-December 18th, Third Floor Main Library

Participating artists were invited to create an imaginative response ‘just beyond the edge of sight’ inspired by these enduring philosophical and scientific questions. Artists were assigned selected scientific books held in the John Martin Rare Book Room or Special Collections at the University of Iowa Libraries. On exhibit are the art works that were created alongside a selection of the scientific books used as inspiration.




micro3Friday, 11/13/15 – 3:00-5:00 pm

Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor, UI Main Library

All Are Welcome



2. Iowa Bibliophiles Speaker Greg Prickman, “Three Nuremberg Chronicles”


Greg Prickman, the Head of Special Collections will present a rare opportunity to view three complete copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle, printed in 1493, one from Special Collections, one from the John Martin Rare Book Room, and one from the private collection of Arthur Bonfield. He will describe the provenance of the three copies and discuss why the copy-specific features of each book are important to our understanding of the book trade.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
Light refreshments at 6:30PM, Talk begins at 7:00PM
Special Collections Reading Room
3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W Washington St.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.


News and Announcements

Google Books

The University of Iowa Libraries has been participating in the Google Books project. In the past few weeks as part of this work about 1,400 Special Collections books have been pulled, barcoded, and sent off to be scanned. Many thanks to Paula Balkenede who made this possible!


From the Web and Social Media

1. NPR Feature



Evelyn Birkby was featured in an NPR segment last week.

Food Podcasts 1.0: These Radio Pioneers Had It Down 90 Years Ago

Birkby was a radio and newspaper columnist and her papers are held in the Iowa Women’s Archives.


2. Social Media Milestone


Special Collections’ new acquisition box opening videos that Margaret Gamm and Colleen Theisen have been creating have gathered over one million views in eleven months on the social media site Vine and through the views that they attract as those posts are shared to Tumblr.  Please join us in recognizing their efforts to spread the word about the materials available in the UI Libraries.



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